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The Power of Outcome Thinking: Whether you believe you can or you can't, you're right

Search America By Harvey M. Weiner, Managing Partner
Search America

  I'm having difficulty winning the loyalty of my staff. This isn't the first time. I need your suggestions on how I can break this pattern.

A.  You're probably witnessing the rebound of your own distrust of others. Optimistic club managers expect and indeed visualize a positive outcome from their relations with subordinates. Expecting negative consequences leads to persistent failure and disappointment (or validation if you get too used to it). Don't want to join the list of migratory managers? Then allow yourself to lead by example. Seek to learn something from everyone you meet. Speak civilly to all. Aban­don sarcasm, insults and put- downs. Strike a balance between boisterous and submissive. Com­municate willingly with just plain folks, not only those who might do you some good. Accept staff er­rors as your own. Shun personal glory. Acknowledge effort. Share praise. Honor and respect every individual — both in speech and behavior.

Q.  I used to work ungodly hours and members still complained, “The GM's not visible." My family felt neglected. I began judging my selfworth by my vocation. Then, through your column, I shifted the emphasis to the life I want to lead rather than what I do for a living. I've never been happier.

A.  Congratulations. You've learned that visibility, or the perceived lack there­of, is really your presence at im­portant times. Invisibility leads to the termination of more club managers than any other factor I've seen in my years of head­hunting in this field. Masters of the illusion of omnipresence schmooze through their busy din­ing room, card and locker rooms, conspicuously park their car in the club's lot, remain through the wedding cake cutting, and greet members at the bag drop or the first tee on weekend mornings. They wisely attend to administra­tive duties during predictable low member-traffic times. By en­gaging the members, learning their names and preferences, they signal sincere interest. Winners locate their office in the members' path — with an open door — per­haps just inside the front en­trance. A personal observation: an identity defined solely by what we do for a living indicates a need to get a life worth living. The best family present is our presence. By picturing the re­wards of balance we learn to pur­sue proportionality.

Q.  My club has improved significantly. A recent member survey rated everything ahead of the last poll yet committee chairmen still find things to criticize. Am I wrong to expect a pat on the back once in awhile?

A.  Realistic club managers learn to tolerate a flawed world inhabited by imperfect people. Directors do commonly manage by exception noting only what's wrong while expecting you to keep things right. Peace of mind will come not from avoiding, but through acceptance of this inevitability. Facts are neutral — neither positive nor negative. How we choose to per­ceive and react to a given situa­tion keeps us in control. Expect everything to go your way and you'll be shaken by adversity.

Q.  I used to feel trapped, un­appreciated and para­lyzed with dread when I had to go to work. Then, with Board support and your timely board orientation, my role as the club's general manager was rede­fined. I've adopted a collabora­tive management style and in­clude both department heads and rank-and-file personnel in the de­cision-making process. Now, as coach/counselor, I can truly enjoy my time at the club. I've learned to seek satisfaction by helping subordinates move up even if it means they must leave for, another club. Thank you for helping me recast my manage­ment paradigm and for your practical and insightful column.

A.  Human beings, some­what unique in our abili­ty to learn from the experience of others, are also remark­able for our seeming disinclina­tion to do so. Any other readers want to share their success in achieving board support in re­defining their management role? Let me hear from you.

Q.   After years of club management experience I began losing patience with redundant board debate. I believed I knew what was best for the club and could save hours of discussion if the Board would just listen to me. Then a recent club president, a successful attorney/mediator, suggested I let the directors talk, and pay attention to their process of achieving consensus. I now closely monitor Board dynamics and learn more at every meeting. How come when I was younger I was so much smarter but with age have become more content?

A.   Silence is a clue to mature self-discipline, particular­ly when you have some­thing worthwhile to say and choose to remain actively silent. The discussion in itself may be more beneficial than any conclu­sion. A directors' unpolished no­tion, because it’s his, beats your great idea any time. By discover­ing the power of outcome-think­ing you have learned to visualize results before opening your mouth. Savvy managers prepare their officers and chairpeople prior to board meetings so they can knowledgeably participate. Next time we feel compelled to show our brilliance we should question if that's the astute thing to do. The ability to remain silent can be the ultimate self-empow­erment.

Harvey Weiner, Managing Partner of Search America® private club management search & consulting, is an agenda-setting, trusted advisor to club leadership since 1974. 800.977.1784 
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